The main topic of discussion at the Monday, December 16th Creek County Commissioners’ meeting was a resolution calling for a special election to allow retail Liquor stores to stay open on Sunday.
Thanks to the passage of State Question 792, which allows grocery stores and convenience stores to sell higher-alcohol-content beer and wine, Voters in Oklahoma counties may vote to approve Sunday hours for retail liquor stores in their respective counties.
Resolution #2019-139 calls for a special election in Creek county, for the purpose of submitting to the registered voters of the county, the question of approving sales of alcoholic beverages on Sundays by retail spirits licensees.
Chairman Leon Warner stated that this item had been on the December 9th agenda and was tabled because the Board of Commissioners wanted to do their “homework” on election costs and “get a little feedback from the public.”
Warner went on to say the state would cover most of the cost of the election since the ballot issue would be presented in the March 3rd statewide election. The county would only be responsible for the cost of the ballots. Research done by Warner indicated a similar situation occurred in 2016 and the cost was $3,300. Warner said the cost has probably gone up since then. Commissioner Warner emphasized that in order to be on the March 3rd ballot, action must be taken at the December 16th meeting.
Warner then asked if anyone present at the meeting wished to speak for or against the resolution. Stephen Wisotsky, the owner of Wisotsky’s Liquor and Wine in Bristow, was the only person in the gallery to speak. Wisotsky said, “Let’s get it on the ballot for several different reasons. Simple reason, taxation and stay competitive with big business.”
At the last meeting, Commissioners said the public could call them or email them to voice their opinions. Commissioner Newt Stephens received 15 responses for and three against the proposal.
Stephens applauded the effort by Nat LeMaster, owner of Liquor Mart, to place this on the ballot during a high-turnout election, thus providing a “good solid opinion in the county of who is for it and who is against it.” Commissioner Stephens emphasized that by approving this motion, the Board of County Commissioners was neither endorsing nor opposing the resolution.
Commissioner Warner proposed the county should pay for half the cost and the proponents would pay the other half. LeMaster, who brought this before the board, said he would pay for the other half and offered to write a check on the spot, but Warner informed Lemaster that the county has to be the one to pay the election board and LeMaster would reimburse the county. The board of Commissioners unanimously passed the motion to approve the resolution, with the stipulation that LeMaster would pay the county up to $1750. The measure will be on the ballot for the March 3rd, 2020 election.